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Lawyers Gone Wild? Or Reporters?

In the never-ending boxing match over the fairness of the civil justice system, each corner paints itself as good and its opponent as evil. We see this regularly in the sparring that occurs between two heavyweights, the American Tort Reform Association and the American Association for Justice (the former Association of Trial Lawyers of America). But we have every reason to expect more balanced and considered reporting on the issue from news organizations. Which leaves me at a loss to explain the blatantly one-sided reporting that characterizes the current Examiner series, Lawyers Gone Wild. In this, the first of a planned five-part series, the Examiner presents four articles: Is There A Doctor in the House ... Who Hasn't Been Sued?, High-dollar Settlements Mark Class Action Cases, Little Relief: Litigation Costs Rising as Firms Face Fewer Suits, and Rogues Gallery of Class Action Attorneys.

With so much mud-slinging between the plaintiff and defense bars, there is need for fair and objective reporting about the justice system. Unfortunately, that is not what we get in this series. Without attribution, the reports refer to "outrageous settlements" and "out-of-control plaintiffs lawyers." When the reports do cite sources, they are almost exclusively lined up on one side of the debate. We hear from ATRA President Sherman Joyce and General Counsel Victor Schwartz, but not a word from anyone at AAJ. The report cites studies conducted by such conservative think tanks as the Pacific Research Institute, The Heritage Foundation and The Manhattan Institute, but turns a blind eye to contradictory research done by liberal think tanks such as the Drum Major Institute and the Rockridge Institute or even the decidedly neutral National Center for State Courts. Even Wikipedia presents a more balanced view of the issues than does this series. Is it the lawyers who have gone wild, or the reporters?

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on September 18, 2007 at 04:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (5)


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